Tag Archives | Chernobyl

What if it happened again? What we need to do to prepare for a nuclear event

As we observe the 70th anniversary of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, it may seem like the threat from nuclear weapons has receded. But it hasn’t; the threat is actually increasing steadily. This is difficult to face for many people, and this denial also means that we are not very well-prepared for nuclear and radiological events.

I’ve been studying the effects of nuclear events – from detonations to accidents – for over 30 years. I’ve been involved in research, teaching and humanitarian efforts in multiple expeditions to Chernobyl- and Fukushima-contaminated areas. Now I am involved in the proposal for the formation of the Nuclear Global Health Workforce.

Such a group could bring together nuclear and non-nuclear technical and health professionals for education and training, and help to meet the preparedness, coordination, collaboration and staffing requirements necessary to respond to a large-scale nuclear crisis.… Read the rest

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What really caused the Chernobyl disaster?

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At 01:23:40 on the 26th of April, 1986, Alexander Akimov made his fateful decision and announced that he was pressing the emergency safety button to end a disastrous safety test and shutdown Chernobyl’s fourth nuclear reactor. The control rods began their slow descent into the core. During the few brief moments where Akimov had considered his options, this undoubtedly seemed to him to be the most sensible way to salvage the situation. A significant reason for the core to have become so unstable was that almost all two hundred and eleven rods had been retracted, leaving the men in the room with very little control over the reactor. Given how many backup systems had already been disabled, Akimov should known that there would have been a severe accident either way. Alas, it was, in fact, the worst thing he could have possibly done. Within seconds, the control rods stopped moving and the colossal containment building began to shake.… Read the rest

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Did the Chernobyl Disaster Cover Up Something Even Worse?

Did you hear the one about the Russian Woodpecker? Newsweek tells the tale:

Dormant for a decade and a half, the Russian Woodpecker appeared to return in December 2013. Once, the notorious tapping of the massive Soviet over-the-horizon radar had frustrated and puzzled Western radio operators, who could discern neither the origin nor purpose of the strange signal. It was coming from somewhere behind the Iron Curtain; its frequency, 10Hz, made some think it was intended for mind control. In 1981, an NBC newscaster wondered, “Are they trying reduce us to a zombie stumbling and groping around and waiting to be told what to do?” And, no, he wasn’t hosting Weekend Update on Saturday Night Live.

DUGA Radar Array near Chernobyl, Ukraine 2014.jpg

DUGA Radar Array (Russian Woodpecker) near Chernobyl, Ukraine. Photo: Ingmar Runge (CC)

 

Even after the fall of the Soviet Union, the 14,000-ton military radar installation in northern Ukraine, near the border with Belorussia, has remained a mystery to outside observers, largely because it sits right next to the Chernobyl Atomic Energy Station, where a reactor meltdown in the spring of 1986 rendered the surrounding area uninhabitable for the next, oh, several thousand years.

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Chernobyl’s Exclusion Zone ‘Perfect Habitat’ For Studying Effects of Radiation on Living Things

PIC: Antanana (CC)

PIC: Antanana (CC)

The Huffington Post reports on the uncertain outcome for flora and fauna living in Chernoby’s Exclusion Zone.

via 28 Years Later, The Animals Of Chernobyl Have Reclaimed Their Homeland… At A Price.

In 1986, an explosion at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant led to the single worst nuclear accident in history. For nearly three decades, humans have been barred from living within 1,000 square miles surrounding the reactor, allowing plants and animals to reclaim their native home… but all may not be well.

A new report from The New York Times chronicles the work of Dr. Timothy Mousseau, a biologist at the University of South Carolina, and his research into the impacts of chronic radiation on Ukraine’s native flora and fauna.

The scientist has been traveling within Chernobyl’s Exclusion Zone — what he calls “the perfect area for biological studies” in the video above — since 1999, measuring population levels of various species, changes in tree growth and an increased frequency in tumors and physical abnormalities in everything from songbirds to beetles.

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New York Times On ‘Capping’ the Chernobyl Catastrophe

Radiation warning symbolA great article here from the New York Times on efforts to clean up and control damage caused by the Chernobyl catastrophe. One such project involves the construction of a giant shelter to cover the entombed remains of the reactor.

The Chernobyl accident can be likened to a huge dirty bomb, an explosion that spewed radioactive material in all directions. The blast was followed by a fire that sent even more contaminants into the atmosphere that were then carried by winds across the region and into Western Europe.

In this way the disaster differs from nuclear power’s two other major accidents, at Three Mile Island in Pennsylvania in 1979 and Fukushima in 2011. At both of those plants, reactor cores melted down, but the core material — the nuclear fuel — remained within protective containment structures.

The four reactors at the Chernobyl plant had no such containment. But that was only one aspect of their flawed design.

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Presences and Absences of Chernobyl: Interview with Photographer Timm Suess

Picture: "Reactor 5 and 6, and Cooling Tower 1" Timm Suess (CC)

Timm Suess is a photographer specializing in abandoned structures. In March 2009 he went on an expedition to the zone of exclusion in Chernobyl, Ukraine and the neighboring town of Pripyat.  His Chernobyl Photographs have appeared in the Sunday Times Magazine, the Sun in the UK, and in the science journal Nature. His photographs are also featured in the book Beauty in Decay.

He lives with his wife and in Switzerland.

 Hi Timm,

I’ve been spending some time looking through your  website Many Faces of Decay. I actually have an interest in abandoned structures, as well. A friend and I explored and photographed an abandoned brewery a few years ago here in Olympia, WA where I live. It’s a very elegant old brick building. We found a black bearskin inside that a squatter had left there, of all things.Read the rest

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2 To 3 Minutes In Hell: Cleaning Chernobyl

A gripping, short documentary video of the horrifying challenge confronting the Soviet Union's "biorobots" -- soldiers, scientists, and civilians who were tasked with the emergency cleanup following the explosions at Chernobyl. Radio-controlled robotic machines were used at first, but their circuitry broke down from the radiation, leaving humans with shovels as the only option.
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Yellow Rain Falls In Tokyo? Pollen Excuse Exact Same As Chernobyl Yellow Rain Lie

Nuclear RainVia the Intel Hub:
While the Japanese government continues to say that the yellow rain seen in Japan was simply “pollen,” many have been reminded of a very similar occurrence after the Chernobyl nuclear disaster. Almost on cue, the Japan Meteorological Agency has confirmed the rain to be pollen after receiving hundreds of calls from concerned citizens. The ‘‘yellow rain’’ seen Wednesday in the Kanto region surrounding Tokyo was caused by pollen, not radioactive materials as many residents had worried, the Japan Meteorological Agency said Thursday, reported the Japan Times. That’s right, according to so called experts, enough pollen to cause hundreds to report their findings, rained down on Tokyo at the same time as a devastating nuclear disaster has released high levels of radiation at least 20 km from the nuclear plant. This explanation has reminded many of the yellow rain that hit after the Chernobyl disaster.
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No Holiday At Chernobyl

A few years ago disinformation published an alternative travel book by Martin Cohen, No Holiday: 80 Places You Don't Want To Visit. Somewhat tongue in cheek, Martin created a grueling world tour of political and cultural excursions to the likes of North Korea's DMZ, Tora Bora in Afghanistan, and, first in line, radiation-blitzed Chernobyl in Russia. It turns out that Martin was ahead of the curve; AFP reports that Chernobyl is now a top tourist destination! Only 79 more to go Martin...
CHERNOBYL, Ukraine — Yellow Geiger counter in hand, the guide announces that radiation levels are 35 times higher than normal. Welcome to Chernobyl, the site in 1986 of the worst nuclear disaster in history and now an attraction visited by thousands of tourists every year. Nearly 25 years after a reactor at the Soviet-era plant exploded, the irradiated zone around Chernobyl is attracting curious visitors from around the world, from nuclear specialists to ordinary tourists, willing to pay 160 dollars (122 euros) a day to visit the zone...
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Radioactive Wild Boars in German Forests

Radioactive BoarThis is creepy news from Cyriaque Lamar on io9.com on a Der Spiegel report:

It’s been 25 years since Chernobyl fallout contaminated flora and fauna in Europe, but German hunting officials are still dealing with rising numbers of radioactive wild boars. But why?

This burgeoning boar population munches on radiation-absorbing truffles and mushrooms, and because of an overall increase in wild boars, the number of radioactive boars has gone up as well. The German Atomic Energy Law requires Berlin to reimburse hunters who bag radioactive boars. In 2009, the government paid out approximately €425,000 — or $555,000 — for polluted piggies. According to Der Spiegel, the contaminated boar population has been the most problematic in southern Germany:

Many of the boar that are killed land on the plates of diners across Germany, but it is forbidden to sell meat containing high levels of radioactive caesium-137 — any animals showing contamination levels higher than 600 becquerel per kilogram must be disposed of.

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